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Violin Soul
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Six Spanish Folk Songs (1914)
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Méditation from Thaďs (1894) [4:30]
Pablo SARASATE (1844-1908)
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 (1878) [7:48]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Aprés un reve Op. 7 No. 1 (1878) [3:01]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Liebesleid (1905) [3:07]
John WILLIAMS (b.1937)
Pieces from Schindler’s List (1993), I. Main Theme [4:17]: 2. Jewish Town [4:30]:
3. Remembrances [5:35]
Vittorio MONTI (1868-1922)
Csárdás (1904) [5:34]
Anna Wandtke (violin)
Roby Lakatos (violin: Monti)
The New Art Ensemble (Grzegorz Lalek (violin), Agata Słowikska (violin), Igor Kabalewski (viola), Tomas Błaszczak (cello))
Agnieszka Panasiuk (piano), Anna Iberszer (castanets), Grzegorz Piotrowski (duduk, saxophone), Klaudiusz Baran (accordion), Magdalena Navarrete (vocal), Mirosław Feldgebel (piano), Sebstian Wypych (bass)
rec. Polish Studio Studio S-2, Warsaw, 2015/16
No texts
DUX 1318 [51:25]

Pity the poor (male) critic who notes the number of photographs of the photogenic performer enshrined in the product presented for review. Is it voyeuristic and irrelevant to note the fifteen black and white and colour photos of Anna Wandtke? Or is it just telling it like it is; vanity bordering on the fetishistic? See below for elaborations of this complaint. Duly noted, I’ll leave this dilemma in her and Dux’s court and crack on with the music.

This isn’t a straight violin recital though the line-up of Falla, Massenet, Sarasate et al promises such. The supporting instrumentation of a string quartet and guest artists ensures that some sonic interest is maintained, though it’s true there are stand-and–deliver standard violin and piano items too.

For Falla’s Six Folk Songs she and her pianist – it’s a measure of the booklet failures that I can’t work out which of the two named pianists accompanies her – are joined by castanets and, more importantly, by singer Magdalena Navarrete who sings the songs, which – of course - are not printed either in the original or in translation in the booklet. All arrangements in this disc are by Urazula Borkowska. A saxophone doubles the line in Nana though there’s a larger ensemble sound and no singing in Asturiana. The castanets return for Jota. The Massenet is reasonably done, the Fauré is not especially touching, but her Sarasate is both stylistically gauche and virtuosically timid. The passage before the left hand pizzicati is rather funked and the pizzicati themselves really don’t ring out very audibly, hard though they are to project.

The string quartet, the New Art Ensemble, join her for a café style reading of Liebesleid. Perhaps the most interesting performance is of John Williams’ music from Schindler’s List where the bass of Sebastian Wypych is prominent. This offers a degree of thoughtfulness and sensitivity which is not always audible elsewhere. The bonus track, so-called - this bonus track takes the music exhausted and panting to 51 minutes in total – sees Wandtke joined by Roby Lakatos who is one of the world’s greatest fiddlers, so this is an unequal battle and, in any case, he has played Monti’s Csárdás with his various ensembles for decades now, and possibly in his sleep. It lacks the irresistible bravura that he customarily brings to it.

This undertaking is very much Wandtke’s own. It shows a rather odd approach to the repertoire – neither fish nor fowl. It’s neither straight-ahead classical violinism nor innovative experimentation. It’s caught between tradition and ambition, between the Devil of studio parochialism and the Deep Blue Sea of novelty. She’s a good, honest young violinist but needs to work out what kind.

Jonathan Woolf



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